When we look at the progress and industry-trend in IT sector, it reminds us of the happenings in Automobile industry in the early part of the twentieth century. Prior to the World War I, the cottage industries mushroomed in every corner of America and Europe. They used to produce a few thousands of automobiles together per year. And when the countries went to War, there was a massive need of new automobiles for transport of weapons, food and other materials for soldiers on the battlefront. There was also need for standardization of the vehicle components so that it can be repaired irrespective of which company had manufactured. This drove the innovation at that time and the result was enormous increase in the production quantity and enforcement of standards in the components. Now we see millions of new vehicles everyday and the number of manufacturers is significantly small.
The whole transformation has been possible through standardisation of production process and process automation.
In this perspective, the trend in the IT industry is very similar. The massive requirements of IT products in every sphere of life, be it the Finance sector or book-keeping at home, and their maintenance have imposed a need for standardisation of production schemes and components, and quicker development and maintenance cycles.
The technologies are still in their early phase of evolution in the IT sector, and also, they very much depend on the innovation by the product Vendors and the large service industry which has grown around them. While these players are contributing in a big way, the issue of compliance to standards has been a major concern for the whole industry.
For example, the most commonly used IT product like a Web browser has not seen a common adherence of protocols and other standards. In this direction, I can cite the case of Internet Explorer from Microsoft, Safari from Apple and Netscape from AOL. Similarly, the worst happenings have occurred in Wireless Industry.
So, there is a need for standard!
Another aspect of the story is if we can use an IT product and also can depend on it. Imagine of a situation when Microsoft withdraws the support for its most popular OS product, Windows 98, which is going to happen in a year or so, after all! In the similar manner, think of the case of a major television vendor withdrawing support for one of its model. In the latter case, you still own the product and can still get assistance of local service people for its repair and maintenance. However, in case of the former, nobody can help you in repairing or maintaining, as the access to the source code of the system is not available even though you still own the product.
And we need Open Source systems!